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Holiday essentials: Beach mat, straw hat, brand chat?
From presenting aeroplane tickets on a mobile device to wearables enabling personalised experiences on cruise ships, technology is being put to imaginative use by brands within the travel industry. However, every time the technological boundaries are pushed, there’s a chance something might not go quite to plan: perhaps an airport barcode scanner might not work, or an electronic room key might fail to register, not to mention the multiple other problems that can befall anyone on holiday. When a problem arises the heat is on, as brands must be able to step in quickly to rectify it and ensure the holiday continues to run smoothly.
Whether or not technology has created the problem, it can provide the solution. On foreign shores people might either struggle to reach the brand via telephone, or be fearful of the roaming charges they could encounter by dialling. This is a customer service brands must look to solve.
Short of having a brand representative on hand for a face-to-face interaction, using a WiFi connection could prove a more suitable basis for communication, as it’s free of charge, and widely available. Using WiFi to run a livechat function could prove very useful, ensuring that customers are able to reach a brand quickly and without fear of incurring costs.
If they have not provided a livechat service before, it could prove difficult to know where to start. So how can brands set up a chat function that can be relied upon at the hour of need? Here are three key areas to focus on:

  1. Making it fit for purpose. When the chat function is being built, it is easy to get ahead of yourself, or preoccupied with things that are not mission-critical (colour schemes, for example). The crucial thing to concentrate on from inception is making sure it is capable of providing the right message to the right person at the right time.
  2. Automation and bots. It is possible to use automation and bots for some parts of a chat function, as it can make the whole operation more cost effective and efficient. However, it’s crucial that this type of functionality is only introduced for simple tasks: it would be a mistake to remove humans from the field beyond basic early areas of interaction, because there’s potential for errors to be made, and for customers to be frustrated by lack of human contact.
  3. Agent skill sets. The people running the chat function must have a full understanding of the role they’re playing in the customer journey, the correct way to conduct themselves on the platform, and how to use the information at their fingertips for certain situations. Above all, brands must make sure agents are able to ‘be human’, showing their personalities where appropriate, as this can pay dividends in terms of long-term customer engagement.
By taking the time to ensure chat platforms are built on ground solid enough to make them fit for purpose, automating appropriate areas and using agents whose human touch will shine through, brands will put themselves in a position to provide a great chat function. This will allow them to resolve customer problems in an effective manner, so that everyone can sit back, relax and enjoy their holidays.